If you're planning to travel over the coming holidays, you might want to find a sitter for your pets. With dozens of sites offering hundreds of sitters, finding the right one for you can be overwhelming. But you can find the perfect pet sitter if you consider these four requirements.
If you're like most pet owners and consider your pets to be members of the family, you'll want to make sure a qualified professional is caring for them. A well-qualified sitter will have the following:
• References - Ask for at least three from vets and/or other pet owners.
• Insurance - Look for a fully bonded and insured sitter.
• Criminal background check - This tip is especially important if the sitter will be making visits to your home.
• Formal training - This tip is especially important if you have an elderly or special needs pet.
• Certification - The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) or Pet Sitters International (PSI) are reputable certifiers.
Specific services vary from sitter to sitter. When searching for the right one, consider:
• Listed services and fees - These should be clearly explained and affordable for you.
• Types of services - Your sitter's services should match your needs, including medicating your pet, sending you updates while you're away, or watering plants and bringing in the mail.
• Types of pets - Most sitters care for cats and dogs; but if you have a fish, bird, or hamster, you'll want to find someone who can care for them too.
Part of choosing a sitter is finding someone who is available. Remember, there's more to consider than just the days you'll be traveling. For example:
• Schedule - Make sure the sitter can be there when your pet needs food, medication, or a potty break.
• Interview - Letting your pet meet the sitter before you travel can give you an idea of how they'll get along.
• Contact - Ask for a 7-day phone number or email address so you can get in touch with your sitter while you're away.
It's always best to prepare for any potential emergencies. Your sitter should have:
• Emergency plans - Ask about plans for pet health emergencies, fires, break-ins, etc.
• Backup sitter - Can someone else fill in if he or she can't complete the assignment?
• Delay accommodations - Don't forget to make plans in case your flight gets delayed or your car breaks down.
Traveling during the holidays can be stressful, but you can have peace of mind knowing your pets are well-cared-for. Just be sure to hire a qualified professional, whose services and availability match your needs, and who are prepared for a variety of emergency situations. Bon, voyage!